Del Mar Art Association: Interview with Bob Coletti 3

I see you lived in Boston for some time. What brought you to California, and what kept you here?

California to me was always like the song of the sirens who lured Ulysses to their island in the Illiad. With a thriving commercial photo business in Boston, it was difficult to make the break until later years in my life. I first came out here in 1994, but went back to Boston in 1998 for personal reasons. I returned to California in 2010 and have been here since. San Diego has been a very exciting, lively and welcoming art community. There are many opportunities for artists. Naturally, this atmosphere helps the creative process no matter what your medium. I always say to friends in Boston: “Whatever you were back there, you’re better at it out here.”

You are a very experienced and prolific artist. I’m curious when you knew you wanted, or were perhaps meant to be, an artist. Was there a moment or event in which you knew you were to be an artist? Or was it perhaps a natural calling?

That’s a seldom-asked question, but a good one. I believe that every artist experiences the day when they realize their view of the world around them is just a little different from their peers. Basically, an artist sees the world as it really is, not as we know it to be. In other words: an artist learns to see things and reproduces them as they really look to them, whether that be figuratively or abstractly. Most people would approach this process by reproducing what they know about the subject, not what they see. The process of learning to see develops from an early age and only continues to evolve as an artist grows older. To see is where the creative process begins and then manifests itself through whatever medium the artist has chosen.

Personally, my first recollection of this phenomenon began when I was in grade school. I was attracted to and then enthralled with art class. Painting and drawing were my chosen techniques at the time, but that soon expanded to other mediums, including photography.

 I’m always curious about an artist’s influences; be it the cinema, literature, or an influential and/or inspirational person. Can you share some of your influences?

Looking back, I would have to say that it was more a group than any individual who influenced and inspired my work. That group was the Impressionists. Again, the concept of learning to see comes into play. If anyone could see, it was the Impressionists.

What I see on first sight gives birth to my work. All my work begins with that initial impression. The art of communicating impressions allows one to generalize and interpret what is seen. My goal is then to convey those magical impressions to others. I have always said: “This is where the magic begins.” That magic is impressionism.

Can you talk about Group7art and the Del Mar Art Center, and about the work you’re doing with those organizations?

Currently, I am vice president of the Del Mar Art Center, which includes the duties of marketing director and web master. Our group is made up of 40 or so local artists–painters, photographers, sculptors, potters, etc. It’s a good grounded group with plenty of involvement in the community.

G7 (Group7Art) is a group that I personally founded in 2011. All artists were hand-picked with a criteria of being recognized as holding local as well as national credentials. Work is displayed and sold through an online gallery, as well as frequent independent gallery exhibitions. G7 is a unique affiliation of diverse artists working together with the common goal of displaying their artwork in gallery venues, show and expositions throughout the internet and at various California gallery locations.

If a Del Mar resident, whom isn’t all that interested in traditional art, is strolling along Camino Del mar, and happens upon the Del Mar Art association, why should that person go into the DMAC? And what could that person gain from walking through the doors of the DMAC?

Keep in mind, the Del Mar Plaza is a retail location. Unlike a museum or a public cultural spot, it is designed to attract shoppers. That being said: we at DMAC do our best to provide a gallery experience. Out artists love to show their work, and making an occasional sale is frosting on the cake. Our members staff the gallery, sharing the workload.

Gallery browsers are warmly welcomed and might be surprised to meet the artist who created their favorite work.

I love your new “Noir Series.” I feel like black and white photography, or even black and white cinematography, is underutilized. In black and white photography there’s a greater emphasis on shadows, and in turn lighting. Can you talk about your Noir Series, and the process of creating your Noir series?

Black and white has it’s niche…in a big way. During my career as a commercial photographer, black and white photos were done for those who could not afford the expense of advertising their products in color. It was also looked upon as a medium of past technologies and admired as an art form in that past context.

In today’s world full of new technologies in color usage, the possibilities are endless. And I might add conversely to your statement, are over utilized.

Black and white is now considered more of an art form in many ways, including form, contracts, tonal range, and the element of drama.  Noir, defined in my terms, is “images in black and white cloaked with the mystery and drama of the unknown.”

My Noir Series was developed via an assignment that I put out there for the five photographers from the DMAC. Beginning with the title “Head in the Clouds,” I asked them all to produce a series of black and white images to this them.

Incorporating my technique of “photo illustration,” style, I used many layers of original images to make up each final image. The irony is that all were originally digital color images.

Nevertheless, the noir theme still carries through dramatically when converted to black & white.

Your “photo illustration,” style is very 
interesting. How long have you practiced 
this technique, and where do you think 
you can take it?

I always mention in my bio that I was a painter before a photographer. Photography continued to be an art form for me, but it also became a career and a way to earn a living.

Approximately 12 years ago, I had a strong desire to return to paining. After 40 or so years of seeing and producing work as a photographer, it was not an easy task to make the transition back. With digital technologies quickly expanding to many ways of reproducing an image, I was naturally drawn to them. Canvas prints, acrylic prints, watercolor paper prints, and metal prints all opened the door to my photos being reproduced as art in many different forms.

My direction then changed from attempting to return to painting, to a new technique that would combine my photo and painting abilities into one. The end product could no longer be labeled just a photograph. Nor could it be called a painting. This gave birth to a medium I now call: “Photo Illustration.”

The “Photo Illustration” process begins with original digital photographs which are then reformatted and altered through various computer applications, some with up to 20 layers of individual images. Then they are reproduced in a variety of formats. The end result…expressive compositions with long lasting qualities as collectable art.

This technique is now used by many artists, however, I believe that I give it my individual special twist of magic that separates it from the others.

Where do I go from here? Let’s see where technology takes us.

For more information visit;; and The DMAC gallery is located at 1555 Camino Del Mar Suite 314.